‘Tis the Season – to Try a Little Dickens!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

“Who can listen to objections regarding such a book as this? It seems to me a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness.” – William M. Thackeray on A Christmas Carol


It seems an appropriate time to reshare my thoughts on this well-known story, mainly because it’s an opportunity to talk about a book by one of my favorite authors. I know Dickens isn’t for everyone; he can be rather wordy, and many of his novels are REALLY long (like, 600+ pages). His stories always have complex plot lines with lots of characters and interesting twists, and he has created some of the most interesting and memorable characters in all of literature, Ebenezer Scrooge being one of them. Continue reading “‘Tis the Season – to Try a Little Dickens!”

Archibald Zwick: A Modern Christian “Everyteen”

ArchieZwick Archibald Zwick and the Eight Towers by Robert Leslie Palmer

  Humility is the path to freedom.
Mourning leads to change.
Surrender is gain.
Morality is possible only when it is impossible.


After reading my review of the Christian classic, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the author of Archibald Zwick asked me if I would read his book and write a review of it, so I agreed and he sent me a copy. Like the classic Pilgrim’s Progress, Palmer’s story is a Christian allegory that uses the characters and events to symbolically convey spiritual truths to the reader. As others have pointed out, the story is similar to the C. S. LewisChronicles of Narnia series, so I think this book would appeal especially to teenagers (and adults) who enjoy that kind of fantasy tale. The story follows sixteen-year-old Archie, who finds himself in a fantastical floating island kingdom reminiscent of medieval England, except the people are smaller than the average human and have green-tinted skin, and the knights ride dolphins instead of horses. Continue reading “Archibald Zwick: A Modern Christian “Everyteen””

The Rhyme and Reason of Words and Numbers: The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom TollboothThe Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

“Words and numbers are of equal value, for, in the cloak of knowledge, one is warp and the other woof. It is no more important to count the sands than it is to name the stars.”


Do you consider yourself a Number person or a Word person? Have you noticed that many people prefer one over the other? I consider myself a “word nerd” — I tend to be a grammar cop, I’m a good speller, and I love reading, discussing books, and playing word games. On the other hand, someone who loves math and is good with numbers is often a bad speller and dislikes reading. (For example, they can remember a person’s phone number but not their name! Or like my son, who has managed to memorize 100 decimal places of pi, but would rather eat dirt than be required to memorize a 14-line sonnet!). The Phantom Tollbooth is an allegorical fantasy tale that plays up this rivalry between lovers of numbers and lovers of words.

Milo’s life lacked something, but he didn’t know what. He was bored with everything; nothing interested him, and he didn’t see the point in learning anything. Continue reading “The Rhyme and Reason of Words and Numbers: The Phantom Tollbooth”